On the third Saturday of every month, our Coffeeshop Writers' Group gathers around a couple of tables to read our latest work to one another and receive feedback.
I love this group!
Six folks showed up yesterday including a new man, Lee, who writes impromptu poetry while serving customers at the diner he's worked at for many years. One time he wrote some terrific lines on a cardboard box. Before he could retrieve them, the box had been shipped halfway across the country. Now he makes a point of carrying around a tiny black notebook in which he jots down stanzas. It reminded me of my father's pocket Old Testament he carried around during World War II.
One of our poets is addicted to caffeine. I have never seen this woman without a cup of coffee in her hands. She's a beautiful woman and a prolific poet who is always fishing for compliments from the group. She read one of her most recent poems to us, got great feedback, but needed, by the end of the meeting to make her usual statement: I'm such a terrible poet I think I should give it up.
I said nothing but let everyone else soothe her. One of my modus operandi in life is I don't like being manipulated.
In the beginning of the Writers' Group I ask: Who has something they want to share. Five out of six hands went up. The readings, as always, were utterly fascinating. One of our two garbage men, Bob, sang a country -western song he wrote. What an imagination! He also read a peerless poem.
Bob, I said to him, you have no idea about this but your poem is very sexual.
He laughed and looked around in confusion as I pointed out the erotic details. My daughter Sarah, who has visited our poetry group, taught me about unconscious sexuality in poetry.
Our writers' group gives people confidence. The confidence to write.
WE REMEMBER OUR HUSBANDS WHEN THEY DIE
When you were my husband, Millard,
I tried to love you
there wasn't much to love
other than your Chinese eyes the color of
far-off rivers I never got to see
or your soft long-fingered hands
you balled into fists to pound the table
when your billfold went missing
I thought the art class might cure you
from your misery and hate
We hung up the charcoal nudes over my typewriter
but you refused to believe they were any good
maybe they looked too much like me
when you died last week
I went upstairs and took out the suit jacket
you left here last summer
examined it for traces of the man you grew into
the pockets were empty
the label read Bobzien's of
my fingers searched
hungrily for any trace of you
so I could love you:
the mark of a pen
a business card in your pocket
I must content myself with a
few white hairs fallen on your back
I love you not enough to
bury my cheek in your sleeve
as I remember our wedding day
forty years earlier
your jacket, then, smaller, lighter weight,
encompassing a bright pink shirt
hiding your smooth hairless chest.